How can trucks reduce fuel consumption?

AskWaves examines ways trucking companies can reduce fuel and increase revenue

A common theme for driving down greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vehicles has been centered around a common narrative: switching to electric vehicles. Unfortunately, making this switch does not eliminate all emissions, as a majority of the leftover GHG emitted comes from the production of electricity to fuel the vehicle.

The investment in one of these vehicles can range up to $150,000 to $180,000, something that may be difficult for smaller owner-operators to afford.

Fortunately, there are many ways that carriers can go about limiting their GHG emissions right now that won’t cost them an additional investment. Instead, these practices could potentially bring down operating costs and increase profit margins.

Minimize deadhead

One of the easiest ways carriers can offset their carbon emissions is to avoid driving empty, contributing to excess GHG emissions and the current capacity shortage. 

Any reduction of the number of trucks on the road obviously will help reduce the amount of vehicle emissions. While it is understandable that there are times a driver will need to drive from delivery to pickup, proper planning by dispatchers or fleet managers can eliminate the excess fuel burning. 

This environmentally friendly strategy also can bring in more revenue. Building a relationship with freight brokers can help find loads to eliminate deadhead between contractual business or shipments from direct shippers.

Monitor tire pressure

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), drivers can improve their gas mileage by 0.6% up to 3% by maintaining tires at the proper pressure. Underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by around 0.2% for every 1 PSI drop.  

This process can help reduce GHG emissions and bring gas savings back to your business. For every 0.6% improvement in gas mileage, you can save about 2 cents per gallon.

Manage and minimize cruise speed

Managing your speed is not only safer but great for the environment. On average, aggressive driving like speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower your gas mileage by 15% to 30%, according to the DOE. Driving more sensibly can bring an average of 28 cents to $1.14 in savings per gallon.  

Observing the speed limit is a large factor of these savings. Once your vehicle reaches a speed of 50 miles per hour, every 5 mph more can add an additional 20 cents per gallon. 

Using cruise control and averaging about 1,250 to 1,350 revolutions per minute (rpm) can help drivers maximize their fuel mileage.

Avoid extra driving by planning daily tasks

A simple way to avoid extra miles is to work closely with your dispatcher or fleet managers to plan extra tasks throughout the day, including eating, refueling and finding overnight parking.

Try your best to grab meals close by or pick up food while refueling at truck stops.

New telematic systems can help analyze fuel efficiency so you can plan where and when you will likely refuel. Also, a number of truck parking applications can help drivers find and reserve parking spots, eliminating the need to add extra miles trying to find a spot.

Maximize trailer space

Just like minimizing deadhead, maximizing your trailer space can help with GHG emissions and bring in additional revenue. In theory, the weight increase will use more fuel, but limiting the amount of trucks on the road should be the ultimate goal. 

There are a number of freight technology suites and freight brokers that focus on bundling partial shipments together to make a full load for carriers, a practice that can substantially increase your revenue.

Flock Freight, a company that offers shared truckload solutions, has found its customers have cut their GHG emissions by 40% by maximizing trailer space. 

To learn about ways to limit your GHG emissions, be sure to check out FreightWaves’ Net-Zero Carbon Summit on Earth Day, April 22!

Industry speakers will include:

  • Angie Slaughter, vice president of sustainability procurement at Anheuser-Busch.
  • Chris Richter, founder and chief executive officer at FloorFound.
  • Pablo Koziner, president of Nikola Energy.
  • Josh Raglin, chief sustainability officer at Norfolk Southern.

Click here to register for this FREE event!

Click here for more articles by Grace Sharkey.

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Daily Infographic: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cycle

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Grace Sharkey

Grace is an entrepreneur and former supply chain executive who has held positions in sales, operations, and consulting. She is passionate about the future of the industry and how technology can improve the experience for all supply chain members. She believes supply chain is the one industry that affects every human directly, and is looking forward to creating content that mirrors that sentiment. If you have a story to share, please contact me at